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Rope Fish

A Brief Overview of the Ropefish

The ropefish, or reedfish as it is also called, is a common American aquarium addition. This article is designed to provide you with enough information about this fish to be able to properly care for it should you choose to add it to your aquarium.

Origin and Habitat

The ropefish is a freshwater fish that originally hailed from West Africa. In the wild, its natural habitat stretches all the way from Nigeria into the Congo. It prefers to live in slow-moving water that is warm, but can do very well in a typical aquarium if a little care is taken.

Physical Description

In the wild, this fish can grow to impressive lengths, growing as big as 3 ft in length. In a fish tank, however, its length stays to below 1.5 ft. Resembling a snake, this fish can indeed be frightening to look at for some, and one can only imagine how nerve-racking it would be to come face to face with a 3 ft specimen in the wild.

One of the most interesting features about the ropefish is the fact that it has lungs. These lungs allow the fish to not only breathe in normal water, but also water with low dissolved oxygen content. It can actually survive outside of water for an intermediate length of time as well.

Aquarium Life

Should you choose to add one of these fish to your own freshwater aquarium, there are some things that you need to be prepared for. For instance, despite their rather large size and formidable appearance, the ropefish is a pacifist at heart. It prefers to explore and be inquisitive about its surroundings. Because of this peaceful nature, other fish in your aquarium may choose to bully your new addition. This is particularly common if you have a lack of space in your tank of if the fish are competing for food.

If you want this fish to be a showpiece for your aquarium, then you should know that they tend to be nocturnal. This can be remedied, however, by coaxing them out with night crawlers and bloodworms, favorite snacks of the ropefish.

See Related: Blob Fish

Problem Behavior

You may notice your ropefish floating near the top of the water level and allowing part of its skin to be exposed to the air. Occasionally, these fish do like to be allowed out of the water, especially if they are being bullied by other fish in the tank. If you have a floating lily pad accessory, you may wish to place it in your tank. Additionally, you can add a breeding tank to the side of your aquarium and see if your fish enjoys relaxing on that.

Be careful though—ropefish are notorious for being excellent escape artists. You need to pay special attention to the lid of your aquarium. Make sure that it is on tight and sealed completely. These fish have no qualms about jumping from the water and throwing themselves against a mesh lid. It is shocking in fact, when you learn exactly how far these fish can jump from the water. Several owners have recorded this behavior on video and uploaded it to the internet.

If you cannot seal the aquarium due to its size or any other reason, then it’s very important that you lower the water level enough to allow for jumping room. It may be the only way to protect your fish from harming itself. Many owners have woken up in the morning to be greeted by a desiccated ropefish lying on the carpet. It’s worth it to put forth the extra effort and ensure the security of the tank.

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